April 9, 2014

Queensland Land Court – judgement on Alpha Coal

Good news on the environment front has been a bit thin on the ground of late, so it is heartening that yesterday, the movement to save our climate and environment had a small, albeit telling win in the Queensland Land Court.

Last year due to concerns over water safety, the effect on global carbon emissions, local farmers and environmentalists brought a case to the court challenging the Alpha Coal project in the Galilee Basin.  Set to be one of the biggest coal mines in the world, the project, a joint venture between Indian owned GVK and Gina Reinhart’s Hancock Prospecting has already received Federal approval and is set to begin operations in 2016. 
In a marked turnaround from the Federal decision, the court strongly urged that the Queensland government review the proposal and block its approval unless important conditions concerning water safety can be met.

Even though the court has no authority to impose its recommendations, environmentalists and farmers feel like their cause has finally been heard.  Derec Davies for the environmental group Coast and Country said ”The judge has clearly stated that the evidence provided to the court in relation to water is unsatisfactory and not in the public interest for this mine to be approved….This is an excellent day for Queensland and this is an excellent day for Queensland’s famers.”

Now we need to wait and see if Premier Newman and his State government will uphold the findings and heed the urgings of the court.  Will the government act in the overall interests of the people, or kau tau to big coal again?  Only time will tell.  One thing is for sure, taking action and making a stand does make a difference.  The people’s voice has been heard in the case of the Alpha Project, now we just have to make sure that it is actually listened to.